Skills Funding Agency (SFA) on behalf of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS)

Content design for digital apprenticeship service (SFADAS02)

Incomplete applications

Incomplete applications

Completed applications

Completed applications
10 SME, 2 large
Important dates
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Published Wednesday 8 June 2016
Deadline for asking questions Wednesday 15 June 2016 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications Wednesday 22 June 2016 at 11:59pm GMT


Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Summary of the work A flexible team of content designers (4 to 8) to work in fast-paced agile delivery teams to create clear, user-led content for digital services. The successful supplier will be able to demonstrate that the individuals they put forward for work have the essential technical skills set out in this document.
Latest start date 27/07/2016
Expected contract length 2 years but may be shorter depending on progress in delivering the service.
Location West Midlands
Organisation the work is for Skills Funding Agency (SFA) on behalf of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS)
Budget range

About the work

About the work
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Why the work is being done BIS and the SFA are delivering a new digital apprenticeship service. The service vision is “Empowering employers to build skills through quality apprenticeships”. Currently apprenticeship funding is allocated and paid directly to training providers. Therefore employers will take control of government funding for apprenticeships. The policy intent is to drive up the quality and quantity of apprenticeships. We have completed a number of discovery and alpha stages for some components the service. The first strand will go live in August 2016. The services being procured are expected to deliver the remaining strands of work by April 2017.
Problem to be solved Often employers don't know they have the option to choose from a range of providers or that government will fund training for their apprentices. Employers need to be able to: 1) hire apprentices; 2) choose the right type of training for their apprentices; 3) find a suitable training provider; 4) understand what funding is available, including the apprenticeship levy, where that applies to them; and 5) manage their training costs.
Who the users are and what they need to do 1) As a citizen I need to improve my employment prospects so that I can start a career and earn money. 2) As an employer I need to employ an apprentice so I can improve the skills of my workforce, and get support for my business. 3) As a training provider for apprenticeships I need to ensure employers choose my services so my business is viable. 4) As SFA I need to manage levy payment and funding to training providers and ensure growth in apprenticeships for the benefit of the economy.
Early market engagement
Any work that’s already been done We have completed a series of discovery and alpha phases for the various strands of work within the service. Two strands of work are currently in the beta phase.
Existing team The supplier will be working with civil servants and multiple suppliers across various strands of work for delivery of the service.
Current phase Beta

Work setup

Work setup
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Address where the work will take place Skills Funding Agency, Cheylesmore House, 5 Quinton Road, Coventry CV1 2WT, with occasional travel to other locations nationwide.
Working arrangements Onsite full-time 5 days a week co-located with the rest of the team at the SFA offices in Coventry. Occasional travel to other BIS or SFA (or partner organisation) offices may be required, subject to SFA travel and subsistence policy. This programme is being delivered using agile methodologies. Successful application of agile principles and techniques requires that the teams are co-located and able to work directly with colleagues representing digital delivery, operational and policy requirements.
Security clearance The successful supplier must be able to demonstrate that all proposed team members have been subject to Baseline Personnel Security Standards checks as set out in the SFA Baseline Security Policy 2014.

Additional information

Additional information
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Additional terms and conditions Standard DOS framework and call-off terms and conditions. Expenses as per the SFA travel and subsistence policy.

Skills and experience

Buyers will use the essential and nice-to-have skills and experience to help them evaluate suppliers’ technical competence.

Skills and experience
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Essential skills and experience
  • Substantial experience of content design for the web, with proven ability to create usable and accessible content which is accurate, timely, high quality and conforms to style.
  • Substantial experience of working in a multidisciplinary team in an agile development environment, and therefore at ease with rapidly changing deadlines, workloads and goals.
  • Able to produce digital content that is accurate, timely, relevant, easy to understand, search engine optimised and written to style.
  • Demonstrable knowledge and passion for user centred design practices for public facing and internal services and applications.
  • Able to understand user needs by analysing user research findings and analytics data. Confident in writing actionable content for transactional services to meet those needs.
  • Able to use analytical and problem-solving skills to help the team solve design problems and challenge assumptions.
  • Understand how a digital service should address the needs of all possible users so that no one is excluded, with particular reference to accessibility and assisted digital.
  • Exceptional skills in convincing people that user needs should guide how information is presented.
  • Confident in explaining decisions to stakeholders who don’t understand web usability or user centred design.
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Experience of working on GOV.UK and other government services
  • Strong understanding of the Government Digital Service’s Design Principles and Digital Service Standard.
  • Proficient in editing with Markdown, editing in HTML and using Github.
  • Experience of using prototyping tools to develop and test content in context.
  • Know how and when to use different prototyping techniques to make and test design hypotheses in rapid iteration.
  • Able to contribute to areas beyond the usual boundaries of the discipline, for example helping the team understand the service’s legal and regulatory environment.

How suppliers will be evaluated

How suppliers will be evaluated
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
How many suppliers to evaluate 4
Proposal criteria
  • Demonstrate the supplier’s experience and knowledge of delivering web content
  • Demonstrate an understanding of how people read and comprehend web content, and provide examples of how you’ve used this in content design
  • Demonstrate how the supplier contributes to building an effective multidisciplinary team
  • Demonstrate the supplier’s approach to user needs
  • Demonstrate how the supplier has used an analytical and problem solving approach to add value beyond the scope of content design
  • Demonstrate how the supplier actively promotes understanding and acceptance of core content and user centred design and agile principles
Cultural fit criteria
  • Demonstrate commitment to excellence and improvement (for example, through seeking actionable feedback, setting targets etc)
  • Have a no-blame culture and encourage people to learn from their mistakes
  • Transparent and collaborative when making decisions and recommendations
  • Demonstrate courage (for example, express controversial views, confront reality, make tough decisions, question actions inconsistent with group behaviours, candid about progress/estimates)
  • Demonstrate vulnerability (for example, declare uncertainty, fear, recognise mistakes, apologise, acknowledge weaknesses)
  • Demonstrate responsibility (for example, act like a leader, serve your team, provide solutions to problems, engage in external/internal environments, seek the best for the organisation beyond your team)
  • Demonstrate simplicity (for example, take simple steps to goals, do less but better, mitigate failures, talk straight with respect)
  • Demonstrate excellence (for example, seek actionable feedback, set challenging targets, know users, deliver cost effective high level customer satisfaction)
  • Demonstrate enthusiasm (for example, bring whole self to work, celebrate success, share passion and energy with others, optimistic)
Payment approach Time and materials
Assessment methods
  • Written proposal
  • Case study
  • Reference
  • Presentation
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Questions asked by suppliers

Questions asked by suppliers
Supplier question Buyer answer
1. This seems to be the provision of resources (4-8) to supplement work & teams already on site, why hasn't this been released as a Specialist, rather than an Outcome based requirement ? What is the actual Outcome expected of the supplier? The outcome that we seek is a supplier that can provide a flexible team of content designers (4-8) who meet the criteria during the life of the contract. This approach suits the “start-stop” nature of this programme (there are multiple streams of work which start and complete agile phases regularly) better than the specialist option which requires one procurement per person per role.
2. Is there a minimum number of resources the supplier must provide? If the supplier has 1 or 2 suitable candidates, will they still be considered? We expect to require 4-8 resources throughout the life of the contract. We will consider suppliers who have 1 or 2 suitable candidates initially as long as they can demonstrate that they can respond within a short time (2 weeks or less) to increased demand and that they can sustain these requirements.
3. Is there any cover for accommodation and travel costs, for people willing to relocate for the contract duration? All supplier resources will be required to be based out of the Coventry SFA offices. As such, travel and subsistence to the base location is not covered by expenses. Day rates should be inclusive of any costs of travelling to and working from the base location. However, the cost of travel to other locations while performing SFA work will be covered as per the SFA travel and subsistence policy and will need to be invoiced by the supplier with supporting receipts.